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[E]Turkey Chides Canada Over Armenia Genocide Vote

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 PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2004 1:07 pm    Post subject: [E]Turkey Chides Canada Over Armenia Genocide Vote Reply with quote Back to top

Turkey Chides Canada Over Armenia Genocide Vote


By Gareth Jones

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey on Thursday condemned the Canadian
parliament's decision to recognize the 1915 killing of Armenians by
Ottoman forces as genocide and warned of damage to bilateral ties.

Canada's parliament voted 153-68 on Wednesday in support of a motion
classifying the events of 90 years ago as genocide, disregarding an
appeal from the Canadian government.

Armenians say some 1.5 million of their people were deliberately
slaughtered by Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1923.

Turkey denies charges of genocide, saying Armenians were among victims
of a partisan war during World War One as the Ottoman Empire collapsed.
Ankara accuses Armenians of carrying out massacres while siding with
invading Russian troops.

"We strongly condemn the approval by Canada's Federal Parliament of this
decision which follows (the pressure of) marginal groups despite our
objections," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"This decision will benefit neither Canadian Armenians nor Armenia.
Responsibility for all the negative consequences of this decision
belongs to the Canadian politicians," it added.

The ministry did not say what these consequences might be, but Fazli
Corman, the Turkish embassy councillor in Ottawa, earlier cited the
example of Canadian companies seeking to sign contracts in Turkey.

Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham said the motion would not alter
Ottawa's official policy, that while the events of 1915 were a tragedy,
they did not constitute genocide.


Canada's embassy in Ankara issued a statement calling for reconciliation
between Turks and Armenians. It also urged their governments to deal
with the issue of the alleged genocide and to work for greater stability
in their "volatile region."

Turkey and Armenia have no diplomatic relations and their border is
closed because of the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, a
territory populated by Christian Armenians but assigned to Muslim
Azerbaijan in Soviet times. Turkey has close linguistic and cultural
ties with oil-rich Azerbaijan.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry accused "narrow-minded Canadian politicians"
of fomenting ethnic and religious hatred between "people of different
ethnic backgrounds who live in peace."

Earlier this week, Turkey also criticized a reference to the alleged
genocide on an Armenian monument unveiled in Poland. The word
"slandered" the Turkish nation, the Foreign Ministry said, and hurt
Turkey's historically warm ties with Poland.

Parliaments in Russia, France and Switzerland, have also adopted motions
describing the events of 1915 as genocide.

Turkey froze official visits to France and temporarily blocked French
firms from entering lucrative defense contracts in 2001 after the French
parliament backed the Armenian case. France is home to Europe's biggest
Armenian diaspora.

The U.S. Congress dropped a similar resolution in 2000 after the White
House warned it would harm U.S. security interests in the Middle East.

Turkey is a key NATO (news - web sites) ally guarding Europe's
southeastern flank and its secular democracy is often held up by
Washington as an example to be emulated by the rest of the Muslim world.
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 PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2004 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

CTV News, Canada
April 22 2004

Turkey condemns Canada's genocide vote
CTV.ca News Staff

Turkey is condemning a decision by the House of Commons to approve a
motion calling the Armenian genocide a "crime against humanity."

Parliament voted Wednesday 153-86 in favour of a private member's
bill formally recognizing the genocide of Armenian Turks during the
First World War.

Turkey had warned that Canada would face economic consequences if it
recognized the killings as genocide, and in a statement issued
Thursday accused Canadian legislators of being "narrow-minded."

"Some narrow minded Canadian politicians were not able to understand
that such decisions based on ... prejudiced information, will awaken
feelings of hatred among people of different (ethnic) roots and
disturb social harmony," the statement said.

Prime Minister Paul Martin was absent for the vote on the motion,
which read: "... this House acknowledges the Armenian genocide of
1915 and condemns this act as a crime against humanity."

Armenia says 1.5 million people were killed between 1915-1923, during
a campaign to force them out of eastern Turkey.

Turkey's government rejects the label of genocide, saying 2.5 million
Muslims were also killed during this period of civil unrest. It
estimates 600,000 Armenians were killed.

Canada is among a handful of countries to formally label the killings
as genocide. They include Switzerland, France, Argentina, Russia, as
well as U.S. state governments. The United Nations have also
recognized the genocide.

When French legislators recognized the genocide in 2001, Turkey
cancelled millions of dollars worth of defence contracts.

The Canadian Embassy in Turkey issued a statement today distancing
itself from the vote.

"Debates and votes on private member's business in the House of
Commons are an integral part of the Canadian democratic process but
private members' motions are not binding on the Government of
Canada," it said.

It also reiterated Canada's position on the killings from a June
10,1999, vote in the House of Commons as "tragic."

Most Liberal backbenchers voted for the motion Wednesday, while many
cabinet ministers were not present.

Martin was accused by the opposition of hypocrisy for promising more
free votes but not showing up for this one.

Liberal MP Hedy Fry, who voted for the motion, said it's important to
remember the atrocities were carried out by the Ottoman empire, which
has since been replaced by the current Turkish state.

"I think we need to recognize the past," she said.

"I think it doesn't mean we've broken ties with the current regime in
Turkey. They are our colleagues, they are our NATO allies. They are a
moderate, Muslim government and I think we need to work with them."
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 PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2004 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Toronto Star
April 25 2004

Turkish historians facing Armenian facts
Scholars tearing away at Turkey's `curtain of silence' Most experts
agree 1915 killings were a case of genocide


MINNEAPOLIS - Taner Akcam doesn't seem like either a hero or a traitor,
though he has been called both.

Akcam, a Turkish sociologist and historian currently teaching at the
University of Minnesota, writes about events that happened nearly a
century ago in an empire that no longer exists: the mass killings of
Armenians in the Ottoman empire during World War I.

But in a world where history and identity are closely intertwined,
where the past infects today's politics, his work, along with that of
like-minded Turkish scholars, is breaking new ground.

A slight, soft-spoken man who chooses his words with care, Akcam, 50,
is challenging his homeland's insistent declarations that the
organized slaughter of Armenians did not occur.

And he was the first Turkish specialist to use the word "genocide"
publicly in this context - a radical step, when one considers that
Turkey has threatened to sever relations with countries over this
single word.

In 2000, for example, Ankara derailed a U.S. congressional resolution
calling the 1915 killings "genocide" by threatening to cut access to
military bases in Turkey.

"We accept that tragic events occurred at the time involving all the
subjects of the Ottoman Empire," explains Tuluy Tanc,
minister-counsellor at the Turkish embassy in Washington, "But it is
the firm Turkish belief that there was no genocide but self-defence
of the Ottoman Empire."

Scholars like Akcam call this a misrepresentation that must be

Most experts outside Turkey agree the killings are among the first
20th-century examples of what the 1948 Genocide Convention defined as
acts "committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a
national, ethnical, racial or religious group."

During World War I, the government of the disintegrating Ottoman
Empire, fearing nationalist activity, organized mass deportations of
Armenians from its eastern territories.

In what some consider the model for the Holocaust, Armenian men,
women and children were sent into the desert to starve, herded into
barns and churches that were set afire, tortured to death or drowned.

The number of deaths is disputed: Armenians say it was 1.5 million;
some Turks insist it was more like 300,000.

In the official Turkish story, the Armenians were casualties of a
civil conflict they instigated by allying themselves with Russian
forces working to break up the Ottoman Empire.

In any case, atrocities were documented in contemporary press
reports, survivor testimony and dispatches by European diplomats,
missionaries and military officers.

Abortive trials of Ottoman leaders after World War I left an
extensive record and some confessions of responsibility.

A legal analysis commissioned last year by the International Center
for Transitional Justice in New York concluded that sufficient
evidence exists to term the killings "genocide" under international

Yet unlike Germany in the decades since the Holocaust, Turkey has
consistently denied that the killings were intended or that the
government had any moral or legal responsibility.

In the years since its founding in 1923, the Turkish Republic has
drawn what Turkish historian Halil Berktay calls a "curtain of
silence" around this history at home and used its influence as a Cold
War ally to pressure Western governments to suppress opposing views.

`It is the firm Turkish belief that there was no genocide but
self-defence of the Ottoman Empire'

Tuluy Tanc, Turkish diplomat


Turks fear to acknowledge the crimes of the past, Akcam says, because
admitting that the founders of modern Turkey, revered today as
heroes, were complicit in evil calls into question the country's very

"If you start questioning, you have to question the foundations of
the republic," he says, speaking intensely over glasses of Turkish
tea in the book-lined living room of his Minneapolis home as his
12-year-old daughter works on her homework in the next room.

Akcam and others like him insist that coming to terms with the past
serves Turkey's best interests.

Their views echo the experience of countries in Latin America,
Eastern Europe and Africa that have struggled with similar questions
as they emerge from periods of repressive rule or violent conflict.

Reflecting a widespread belief that nations can ensure a democratic
future only through acknowledging past wrongs, these countries have
opened archives, held trials and created truth commissions.

Akcam thinks some headway is being made, particularly since the
election of a moderate government in 2002 and continuing Turkish
efforts to join the European Union.

And he is convinced the state's resistance to historical dialogue is
"not the position of the majority of people in Turkey."

He cites a recent survey conducted by scholars that appeared in a
Turkish newspaper showing that 61 per cent of Turks believe it is
time for public discussion of what the survey called the "accusations
of genocide."

But his views and those of like-minded scholars remain anathema to
the nationalist forces that still exercise influence in Turkey.

Akcam has been building bridges since 1995, when he met Greg
Sarkissian, founder of the Zoryan Institute in Toronto, a research
centre devoted to Armenian history.

In what both men describe as an emotional encounter, they lit candles
together at an Armenian church for Sarkissian's murdered relatives
and for Haji Halil, a Turkish man who rescued Sarkissian's
grandmother and her children.

Akcam and Sarkissian say Halil, the "righteous Turk," symbolizes the
possibility of a more constructive relationship between the two

But like most Armenians, Sarkissian says Turkey must acknowledge
historical responsibility before reconciliation is possible.

"If they do," he says, "it will start the healing process, and then
Armenians won't talk about genocide any more.

"We will talk about Haji Halil."
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